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Canoeing is healthy and environmentally friendly

Canoeing is healthy and environmentally friendly

Remember the day I raced against Rubavu-based fishermen at five in the morning? It was an early morning canoeing expedition that created cherished memories. After the race, I had stopovers on Akeza and k’Abakobwa islets before returning to La Bella Lodge for breakfast.

There is something magical about water bodies. It’s common to see people traveling long distances in pursuit of the sand, the sight of the gentle waves and the cool breeze. Kicking back on sandy beaches and sipping beverages prescribed for holiday makers, vacationing in exotic destinations, is absolutely sensational but not enough to quench my thirst. Any activity that can be done on the shuffled waves does the trick. Canoeing is definitely one of them.

What do canoes and traditional bicycles have in common? They are both engineless. They are propelled by their users’ physical strength. Like cycling, canoeing is healthy and environmentally friendly. It is a mode of transport that doubles as a sport. This activity enables its user to move from point A to point B while exercising. In this case, one stone kills two birds.

Canoeing is sometimes confused with kayaking. A kayak is a canoe-like light boat powered by a double-bladed paddle. Most kayaks have enclosed decks, but inflatable ones are growing in popularity. In some cases, canoe and kayak are used interchangeably but there are slight differences between the two. Canoe paddlers use single-bladed paddles and their vessels are usually open.

Paddle boarding, on the other hand, is a hybrid product of kayaking and canoeing. You can do paddle boarding while sitting, kneeling or standing. Stand up paddle boarding requires balancing skills that take only a few minutes to develop. The three interrelated leisure pursuits improve cardiovascular fitness and strengthen different parts of the body.

When I set foot on Akeza Island, it felt like stepping on a little slice of heaven. The atmosphere around the island arouses dreams of paradise. It was during this stopover when I added "camping on Akeza Island" on my bucket list.

When I docked on Akarwa k’Abakobwa (girls’ island), my heart bled. This is where our forefathers used to dump their pregnant daughters as punishment for pre-marital pregnancies. Abandoned girls would be thrown there like pieces of trash. When Abashi men from the other side of the lake came for their rescue, the poor girls ended up in forced marriages under depressing conditions.

Canoeing at sunrise, around Rubavu’s picturesque islands, was the best way to kick-start my adventure filled day. Lake Kivu’s sunrise is a spectacle you would want to see one day.

The author is an adventurer on a tour of all 30 districts and 416 sectors of Rwanda. Follow his awe-inspiring expeditions on Twitter @GeoExposure.

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